Love them or loathe them, internships can be incredible experience that can help you and your career.
Internships have a mixed reputation. There are two stereotypes:
Believe it or not, there are a number of myths surrounding internships. We’re going to dispel a few of them and explain why an internship could be the kick start you need to launch your career.
Myth #1: You don’t get paid
This is not entirely true. While a lot of internship providers will pay their interns a wage while they’re working with them there are still some who don’t offer pay.
However – if this is the case, they are legally obligated to pay for your expenses. That means your travel, and sometimes your meal. You should never be expected to work for a company totally free unless it’s as part of work experience. If you find an internship that has no pay and doesn’t cover any expenses, it’s illegal and you should keep searching.
Myth #2: It’s just a fancy word for work experience
Ok, it’s true. Internships are a sort of work experience – but there are some definite differences. Work experience is generally only for a week or two, and it gives you the chance to experience a brief snapshot of what it’s like to work full time.
Internships are much more in depth. Rather than just a few days, internships can last anywhere from three months to an entire year. You’ll be a member of staff for the duration of the internship and it gives you a much more immersive idea of what it’s like to work as part of a team.
Work experience is often enforced by schools, and sometimes you can’t get a placement doing the job you were interested in. Although any work experience is valuable, internships are normally designed to let you experience a much more specific sector so you can decide whether or not you would like to pursue a career in that area. Both types of experience looks brilliant on your CV, but an internship is much more about getting your foot in the door.
Myth #3: You’ll have a job at the end of it
This isn’t quite the case. The great thing about internships is the possibility of being offered a permanent position at the end of it. However, some companies just won’t have space available for you at the end of the internship – but that doesn’t mean you haven’t kick started your career. Although you aren’t going to be working in the same company, you’ll have proof on your CV that you’ve had experience in the career you’re pursuing. Not only that, but it shows you’ve taken the time and effort to go out and find an internship programme and spend months working to get some experience. Employers like to see dedication and determination, and this certainly shows that.
On the other hand, you may well be offered a job at the end of the internship if the company is impressed by your work. In which case, you’ve already started the career you want by working your way up.
But perhaps the best thing about internships is the fact that you don’t need a degree to do them. Occasionally there will be an internship programme specifically for post-graduates, but there are plenty that don’t require a higher qualification. Instead, companies look for a hard-working, enthusiastic and professional individual who is ready to start their career.
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